Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat: February 2014

From Washington Lawyer, February 2014

By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le

D.C. Bar Foundation Names Jarratt as Executive Director
Kirra JarrattThe District of Columbia Bar Foundation’s board of directors has named Kirra L. Jarratt as its new executive director. Jarratt recently served on the D.C. Bar Board of Governors.

Jarratt was formerly a legislative counsel in the Governmental Affairs Office of the American Bar Association, where she focused on issues such as campaign finance reform, elder law, and real property. She also worked on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Jarratt follows Katherine L. “Katia” Garrett, who served as executive director of the Bar Foundation since 2005. Garrett stepped on December 20.

"I’m thrilled to build on Katia’s history of success and thoroughly engage in the long-term strategic planning process that the foundation has begun,” Jarratt said. “I am committed to building the foundation’s community of support that is so instrumental in helping to improve access to justice for D.C.’s most vulnerable residents.”

Jarratt’s experience includes serving as general counsel for the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and as assistant general counsel at the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. She also served as counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as legislative director for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. In addition, Jarratt founded the law firm of Jarratt & Jarratt, PLLC, where she litigated child welfare and family law cases. She is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and the University of Michigan Law School.

“We have found an excellent new leader for the D.C. Bar Foundation who will build on the truly remarkable professionalism, vision, and strategic, collaborative growth that Katia Garrett has so effectively put in place during her tenure,” said Marc Fleischaker, president of the Bar Foundation’s board of directors. “Kirra brings leadership, passion and a deep commitment to serving the most vulnerable population in Washington, D.C.”—K.A.
Bar’s New Web Site Allows Ease of Access, More Interactive Use
The D.C. Bar launched its new Web site in December. With its streamlined navigation, new online storefront, and improved search features, the site provides Bar members and the public greater access to important legal information.

The dynamic visual design will point users toward the latest, most relevant news and offer a more interactive experience while conducting legal research, registering for their next course, or searching for pro bono opportunities around the District of Columbia.

In addition, the new Marketplace serves as a one-stop shop for members to buy or download materials made available from some Continuing Legal Education and Sections programming, and numerous publications such as the District of Columbia Practice Manual. Users also can register for events in one easy transaction.

Need information while waiting on the platform for the Metro? No problem. The new site renders in a mobile-friendly interface to make browsing seamless on any device, from your tablet to your smartphone.

Keep in mind that during the transition, bookmarked links may no longer work on our new Web site. The Bar’s Web site is available at www.dcbar.org.

For questions, feedback, or to report issues with the new Web site, please contact the D.C. Bar at 202-626-1302.—T.L.

Washington Council of Lawyers Recognizes Pro Bono Service
Photo by Jessica StringerOn December 4 the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) held its annual awards ceremony at Arnold & Porter LLP where it honored several members of the District of Columbia’s legal community for their pro bono work.

“Our annual awards reception is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the commitment to service of our awards recipients and to highlight the outstanding work of these individuals and this law firm. They are an inspiration, and, by their example, encourage all of us to find a way to give back,” said WCL Executive Director Nancy Lopez.

The Law Firm Award went to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP for being a leader in the public interest community and for its longstanding relationship with WCL.

The Outstanding Government Pro Bono Service Award went to Jay Own of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, who has made regular pro bono service a part of his legal career. He has volunteered for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for more than five years, handling 126 pro bono clients, and he serves on the clinic’s board of directors.

The first ever recipient of the Legacy Award was Arnold & Porter partner Lawrence Schneider, who has been on the WCL board for more than three decades, during which time he has served as treasurer, vice president, and president; served on nearly every standing committee; and been an advisor and mentor to newer leaders.

Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center (CLC), received the Presidents’ Award for her commitment to improving the lives of children in the District. Under her leadership, CLC has become the District’s largest civil legal service organization.

“I believe the thanks are just as deserved by each of you and the hundreds of pro bono lawyers, board members, donors, and support staff who make our work possible,” Sandalow said before reading aloud some thank you notes received.

“Just recently one of our pro bono lawyers thanked me for the opportunity to do pro bono work. She said ‘thank you for giving me a chance to learn so much about our city, my neighbors, and what it really means to be a lawyer.’ There is no better reward than that,” Sandalow said.

Jenner & Block LLP partner and WCL past president and honorary board member Paul Smith gave the evening’s keynote remarks in which he said the D.C. legal community has a dedication to serving the poor unlike any other city in the nation, and that the city’s pro bono culture was so strong, thanks to the work of groups like WCL and CLC.—K.A.

Bar Seeks Candidates for Committee, Board Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointment this spring to the Attorney/Client Arbitration Board, Judicial Evaluation Committee, Legal Ethics Committee, Clients’ Security Fund, and the Bar Foundation, as well as to the Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) of the D.C. Court of Appeals.  

All candidates must be members of the D.C. Bar. For BPR openings, three individuals will be selected for each vacancy and the names of the nominees will be forwarded to the D.C. Court of Appeals for final appointment. Preference is given to individuals with experience on BPR hearing committees.  

Résumés must be received by March 14. Individuals interested in applying should submit a résumé with a cover letter stating the committee on which they would like to serve to executive.office@dcbar.org or by mail to the D.C. Bar Screening Committee, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210.

Additionally, Bar members interested in being considered for BPR hearing committee vacancies that arise periodically should send a letter of interest and résumé to the Board on Professional Responsibility, 430 E Street NW, Suite 138, Washington, DC 20001.

A Four-Legged Lift
Georgetown University Law Pause for Paws eventGeorgetown University Law Center students take a break from studying for their December finals to play with Cody and take part in Pause for Paws. For the third year, Georgetown’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund presented the event, which brings together students and therapy dogs in an effort to reduce student stress and anxiety before exams. The 16 dogs were provided by Fidos for Freedom, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Veterans Moving Forward, and Warrior Canine Connection.—K.A.

Bar’s Sections Start Steering Committee Nominations Process
The D.C. Bar’s sections have begun the process of electing steering committee members for 2014. Bar members who are interested to run must submit their Candidate Interest Forms and résumés by 5 p.m. on February 6.

Voting will begin on April 29 and end at midnight on May 23. Elected candidates will take office on July 1.

The D.C. Bar Sections Office held a briefing for prospective candidates on January 22.
Steering committee members are responsible for coordinating programs, projects, publications, and community outreach activities of the Bar’s sections. Steering committees can issue public statements and submit comments on legislation, court rules, and regulatory reform within their area of expertise.

Attorneys who are members of the D.C. Bar and of one or more of its sections are eligible to run for a seat on their sections’ steering committees. Steering committee members are elected for three-year terms.

After the February 6 deadline, each section’s nominating committee will select its slate of candidates. Nominating committees must submit their lists of nominees (two to three candidates per open seat) no later than March 3.

To know more about the sections elections or to view the Candidate Interest Form, contact the Sections Office at 202-626-3463 or sections@dcbar.org, or visit www.dcbar.org/sections/elections.
JNC Announces Three Nominees for D.C. Court of Appeals Vacancy
On December 18 the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission recommended to President Obama three candidates for a vacancy on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The president has 60 days to select one of the nominees to fill the vacancy left by Judge Kathryn A. Oberly, who retired in November.

The commission recommended Todd Sunhwae Kim, solicitor general of the District of Columbia since 2006. In his current position, Kim oversees appellate litigation for the D.C. government in the D.C. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before becoming solicitor general, Kim was an appellate attorney in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Kim clerked for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the D.C. Circuit.

The commission also nominated D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Neal Elliott Kravitz, who has served on the court since 1998. Judge Kravitz is a member of the Standing Committee on Fairness and Access to the District of Columbia Courts and the Superior Court Rules Committee. Judge Kravitz has sat by designation on the D.C. Court of Appeals on several occasions and has authored several opinions for the court.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Kravitz was counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice, was principal deputy Democratic special counsel to the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee, and was special investigative counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. He served as executive director of the New Hampshire Public Defender and worked as a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, he served as law clerk to Judge Henry A. Politz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The third nominee, Paul Reinherz Quitman Wolfson, is a partner in the appellate and Supreme Court litigation group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, which he joined in 2002 after serving as an assistant to the solicitor general of the United States at the Department of Justice. At the Justice Department, Wolfson received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 2001 for “exemplary representation of the United States before the Supreme Court.” He was a staff attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group from 1990 to 1994. Wolfson graduated from Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, and Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge Phyllis Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and then for Associate Justice Byron White of the Supreme Court.

For more information, contact the commission’s executive director at 202-879-0478 or dc.jnc@dc.gov.—K.A.

Jammin’ for Justice
JusticeAid concertDC Law Students in Court Executive Director Moses Cook (right) joined the DCLSIC staff onstage at the Black Cat on November 20 to address the crowd before the start of a concert benefiting the organization. The concert was presented by JusticeAid, a recently formed organization that uses the arts to educate the public on justice issues and to raise money to support organizations dedicated to eradicating injustice. JusticeAid’s board of directors is composed of D.C. attorneys and a retired D.C. Superior Court judge.—K.A.

New, Expanded Site Replaces Venerable THOMAS.gov
After more than a year in beta form, the new Congress.gov has replaced the popular THOMAS.gov, which helps users find free legislative information.

The new Congress.gov site has expanded the offerings once offered by THOMAS.gov, providing bill status and summary, member profiles, and bill text from the 111th and 112th Congress. In addition, the new site includes committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative process videos, committee profile pages, and access to information dating back to the 103rd Congress. Over the next year, the site will also incorporate nominations as well as treaties and communications.

THOMAS.gov launched nearly 20 years ago, drawing an average of 10 million visitors a year. The site, however, was no longer able to accommodate the changes in Internet practices over the years, including the need for a mobile-friendly site. Congress.gov is a collaboration between the Library of Congress, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and the Government Printing Office aimed at making the search for legislative information more streamlined, comprehensive, and intuitive.

Visitors to THOMAS.gov will be automatically redirected to Congress.gov. The link to the THOMAS page on Congress.gov will remain until late 2014. Users who want more help navigating the new site can sign up for online or in-person trainings, which are scheduled for March 11 and May 15. To register, visit beta.congress.gov/help.—T.L.

CCE Searches for Next Honorees of Justice Potter Stewart Award
The Council for Court Excellence (CCE) is accepting nominations for its 2014 Justice Potter Stewart Award until February 7.

The award is presented each year to members of the local and federal justice system who have exhibited throughout their careers the same persistence to improving the administration of justice as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart, the award’s namesake. In addition, the individual or group must have demonstrated significant and sustained contributions to the legal system or the administrative aspects of the government in the District of Columbia.

In years past CCE has presented two Justice Potter Stewart Awards (and on a few occasions, three), one of which may be given to an “unsung hero” who has worked with little or no public acclaim. Current CCE board members or sitting judges are not eligible.
The award(s) will be presented at CCE’s 18th annual Justice Potter Stewart Dinner on May 8 at the Organization of American States.

Nominations can be mailed directly to the Council for Court Excellence at 1111 14th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005, or submitted online at www.courtexcellence.org, keyword: Justice Potter Stewart Award. —T.L.

Former D.C. Bar President Flagg Appointed to JNC
Ron Flagg headshot by Patrice Gilbert PhotographyOn January 2 the D.C. Bar appointed Ronald S. Flagg, former president of the Bar, as the newest member of the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission.

Flagg currently serves as vice president for legal affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). He also chairs the board of directors of the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

Prior to his appointment to LSC, Flagg practiced commercial and administrative litigation at Sidley Austin LLP for 31 years, 27 years of which as partner. He also chaired the firm’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Law for more than a decade.

Flagg was president of the D.C. Bar from 2010 to 2011 and served on the Bar’s Board of Governors from 2007 to 2009. He also served as chair of the Bar’s Pro Bono Committee and of the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s governing board. He was a member of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, as well as of the board of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School, Flagg clerked for Judge Myron L. Gordon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Flagg replaces Venable LLP partner Karl A. Racine on the commission, who also was appointed by the D.C. Bar.

New Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.

D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.

New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60-day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar administratively suspends individuals who have not completed the course and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.

Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated, one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.

The preregistration fee is $219; the onsite fee is $279. Courses will be held on February 4, March 8, April 8, May 17, and June 10. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/membership/mandatory-course.cfm.

Department of Homeland Security Receives Pro Bono Award
Homeland Security awardThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was honored for its commitment to promoting and facilitating pro bono work among its attorneys by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of the Judicial Conference of the District of Columbia Circuit at the annual Federal Government Pro Bono Recognition Reception on December 16.

“They’re really doing double duty,” said committee chair James Sandman of government attorneys providing pro bono legal services. Sandman said government attorneys face special challenges when seeking to perform pro bono work—they have more restrictions and fewer resources.

“People would be amazed to discover that federal government attorneys make up more of the staff of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s clinics than any private law firm,” he said.

The reception marked Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s first time officiating an event as chief judge. Garland was instrumental in getting the U.S. Department of Justice to allow government attorneys to do pro bono work, which he talked about during his remarks.

“Look how far we’ve come. In early 1996 there was only one federal agency, the Justice Department, that had a program to encourage pro bono participation; now there are 28, with six more in the drafting stage. This year 17 federal agencies committed to staffing the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s Advice and Referral Clinic, bringing volunteers to the clinic 21 times,” he said.

“These are hard economic times still. Many in our local community are hurting; they are in need of legal services and without the money to pay for them. Someone has to step up to meet that need. I’m proud of the people in this room because you are the ones who are stepping up.”

DHS attorney Joseph Maher accepted the John C. Cruden Federal Agency Pro Bono Leadership Award on behalf of his agency.

The reception is part of the conference’s ongoing efforts to encourage pro bono service by both private and public attorneys admitted to its courts. In 1998 and in 2010 the conference recommended that attorneys perform 50 hours of pro bono legal service annually to fulfill their professional obligations under Rule 6.1 of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct.

Bar Seeks Nominations for Annual Awards at Celebration of Leadership
The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations for outstanding projects and contributions by Bar members that will be recognized at the 2014 Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting. The deadline for submissions is March 28.

Bar members are encouraged to submit nominations for the following: Best Bar Project/Frederick B. Abramson Award, Best Section, and Pro Bono Awards.

Nominations may be submitted in one of the following ways: (1) online at www.dcbar.org/awards; (2) by e-mail to annualawards@dcbar.org; or (3) by mail to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Electronic submissions are encouraged.

The winners will be honored on June 17 at the Bar’s Celebration of Leadership at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW. The Bar also will present its Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service and its Thurgood Marshall Award at the event.—K.A.

Judge Goldfrank Joins Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure
On January 2 the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors appointed retired Judge Joan L. Goldfrank to the District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure for a six-year term ending on January 1, 2020.

“I am honored to serve as a member of this important commission. The public’s and attorneys’ belief in and respect for the judicial system is critical to our community,” said Goldfrank. “The commission is significant in ensuring the continued excellent bench in the District of Columbia. I look forward to contributing to the commission’s work.”

Goldfrank was appointed as magistrate judge to the D.C. Superior Court in 2002 and retired in 2012. Previously, she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in various roles, including as senior legal advisor in the Professional Responsibility Advisory Office, as senior attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, and as assistant counsel in the Office of Professional Responsibility.

In addition to her work at the Justice Department, she also served as executive attorney for the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility, as staff attorney in the Legal Advisor’s Office at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, as associate at Collier, Shannon, Rill & Scott PLLC, and as trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure was established in 1970 to preserve an independent and fair judiciary. The commission evaluates judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court who seek reappointment upon the expiration of their terms, or who retire and wish to continue service as senior judges, and investigates alleged judicial misconduct.—T.L.

Jenner & Block’s Masters Joins Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors
Lorelie Masters headshotOn November 12 the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors approved the appointment of Lorelie Masters to the board of directors of the D.C. Bar Foundation for a three-year term. Masters filled the vacancy left by John Nields.

“I am thrilled that Lorie agreed to join our board, and that the Board of Governors approved the appointment. Her background in the public interest community and knowledge of how legal service providers work, as well as her experience with the Bar, will be extraordinarily useful as we move forward to assure the best possible funding for the critical legal services that the Bar Foundation supports,” said Marc L. Fleischaker, president of the Bar Foundation’s board of directors.

Masters is a partner at Jenner & Block LLP, working in the firm’s insurance recovery and counseling practice. Throughout her career, she has taken on leadership roles with the D.C. Bar and the American Bar Association, and served as president of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia from 2007 to 2008. She served on the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors from 2010 to 2013.—T.L.

Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll Recognizes Attorney Service
Attorneys in the District of Columbia who performed 50 hours or more of pro bono work in 2013 are invited to be part of the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, an initiative of the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court to honor pro bono service.

To be included in the 2013 honor roll, private and federal government practitioners must submit the required registration forms and apply by January 31 by visiting www.probono.net/dc/honor-roll. The list will be posted on the D.C. Courts’ Web site, alongside a letter acknowledging the significance of the honor roll members’ contributions to the local community in increasing access to justice.

To register, attorneys must simply submit a declaration indicating that they have provided 50 hours or more of pro bono work or, to qualify for the higher recognition category, 100 hours or more of free legal service. Bulk applications may be submitted by office administrators.

Supported by the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll was launched in 2011 to recognize the vital role that attorneys play in providing pro bono legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. It pays tribute to the thousands of D.C. Bar members and others practicing under D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49 who provide desperately needed free legal services to those living in poverty, as well as to small, disadvantaged businesses and community-based nonprofits that are critical to the economic well-being of the District.

Georgetown Law, Thomas Reuters Release Legal Market Report
Bigger isn’t necessarily better for law firms, according to a study released by the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center and Thomas Reuters Peer Monitor.

The “2014 Report on the State of the Legal Market” shows that while 2013 was a record year for law firm mergers and the pace of lateral acquisitions remained strong, growth often leads to problems for firm leaders. In addition, a comparison of the number of lawyers in the Am Law 200 firms with the profits per partner of those firms showed no correlation between size and profitability.

“Law firms need to think more carefully and systematically about what is necessary to build sustainable organizations over the long term. That means giving serious thought both to how they provide services to clients and how they can provide opportunities for lawyers that elicit commitment and afford professional satisfaction,” said Milton Regan, a Georgetown Law professor and codirector of the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession.

To view the full report, visit https://peermonitor.thomsonreuters.com.—T.L.

trendsLegal Community, City Year Join Hands to Help Students Succeed
On a normal weekday morning in Washington, D.C., people briskly walk through the city streets, heads buried in their phones or pointedly making their way to the office. But November 21 wasn’t a typical workday for some.

A couple of blocks from Jones Day, which sits on the corner of 3rd Street and New Jersey Avenue NW, people in red jackets started waving. The first time, you think nothing of it. Another block closer and the youths are smiling and saying hello. Now you’re a little thrown off. As you round the corner, the “Good mornings!” ring in the air. What is going on? It’s the second annual City Year Legal Community Breakfast, held at Jones Day.

Two Law Students and a Dorm Room
The idea for City Year was born in 1988 in the dorm room of two Harvard Law School students. “It was the belief that young people had a part to play in addressing some of the nation’s most challenging issues,” said Jeff Franco, vice president and executive director of City Year Washington, D.C.

The nonprofit’s mission is to help students stay in school by sending AmeriCorps members into public schools to serve as tutors, mentors, and role models alongside teachers. City Year is currently in 24 communities across the United States.

The Washington, D.C., location was founded in 2000 by Christopher Murphy, a former attorney at Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) and current chief of staff of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. Murphy was an original corps member in 1988 in Boston. He led City Year D.C. for eight years and sat on its board of directors. Today the local branch has 156 full-time corps members in 13 District schools.

A Bright Spot
Andrew Edghill, one of the corps members, works with students at Neval Thomas Elementary School in Northeast D.C. At the breakfast, he talked about his background: a mother from the projects in Jersey City and a father who immigrated to America at the age of 19 from Panama. Both grew up to have successful careers.

“The opportunities and the experience that I’ve had, I’m grateful for,” said Edghill. “I wanted to pay it forward after school. I thought City Year would probably be the best opportunity to do that.”

Speaking to those seated at his table, Edghill said his biggest challenge was realizing that the opportunities he was afforded as a child were not possible for many of the students he now mentors.

Hank Walther, a partner at Jones Day, reiterated the struggles that many District students face. “If you go a mile or two east of here, across the Anacostia River and into Ward 7 or 8, only about 40 percent of students in those public schools graduate from high school. You can all imagine the tremendous social and economic consequences that come with figures like this and that come with dropout rates that are this high,” he said. “But there are some bright spots, and City Year is one of the brightest spots in this story.”

According to statistics from the 2011–2012 academic year, 59 percent of District students in the sixth grade through ninth grade who were sliding off in attendance were back on track by the end of the year with the help of City Year corps members, nine out of 10 students agreed that City Year helped them believe they could succeed, and 95 percent of students in kindergarten through fifth grade who received literacy tutoring improved their literacy assessment scores, with 41 percent of those students improving by an entire proficiency level.

Kwame Simmons offered a personal success story from Kramer Middle School in Southeast D.C. where he is principal. “Maya was the kind of middle school student that people dread to see coming. This is an adolescent teenage girl, stir-crazy for boys, [and] defiant. Anytime you say or do anything against her predetermined plan, you had a fight on your hands,” he recalled.

Maya was beginning eighth grade when the school started its partnership with City Year. “There was this woman in a red jacket [the group’s trademark attire] who had this pristine kind of energy that mesmerized Maya in a way,” Simmons said. In a few months, Maya started to change. She is now vice president of her 10th grade class at McKinley Technology High School.

“The City Year corps members come to Kramer and they inspire. They get children who are 11, 12, and 13 years old to believe in themselves,” said Simmons. “When we have City Year corps members, they come in with this storm of positive energy. It’s impacting the entire building. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

Legal Roots Growing
The impact City Year has had on students in the District would not have been possible without the support of the local legal community. Since the days of the law school dorm, the organization’s roots have grown to include support from firms and attorneys around the nation’s capital.

The second Legal Community Breakfast drew 250 attorneys, garnered firm sponsorships, and raised more than $106,000 for the organization. Throughout the year firms donate space for staff and corps member training, serve on City Year’s Annual Gala and Legal Breakfast Host Committees, and mentor corps members interested in law school. In addition, six of the 18 board members of City Year D.C. are lawyers.

“It’s an example of something that attorneys can appreciate, which is if you don’t have the foundation to succeed in school, then the opportunities that a lot of us have had as attorneys to succeed later on in our careers really aren’t present for some of these kids,” said Wesley Heppler, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP who has worked with City Year for about two years. “This is a chance for attorneys to impact these kids very directly, either through financial support or through hands-on support to give them the foundation and help they need to get to the places where we’ve been fortunate enough to get.”—T.L.

Reach D.C. Bar staff writers Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le at kalfisi@dcbar.org or tle@dcbar.org, respectively.